Crown drops more Sheridan allegations

FIVE more accusations of perjury against Tommy Sheridan have been dropped by the prosecution as the long-running trial draws to a close.

• Tommy Sheridan arrives at court with wife Gail, who was cleared of perjury last Friday. That meant she could sit in the public benches instead of the dock. Picture: PA

It leaves the former Scottish Socialist Party leader facing only six of the original 15 allegations.

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He is still charged with lying in court about a meeting at which he is alleged to have confessed to visiting a swingers' club, and about having affairs with two women and going with them to the club.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice, QC, told the High Court in Glasgow yesterday he had withdrawn the five accusations to help them concentrate on the main issues in the trial. "What I have sought to do is prune it down to some straightforward issues," he said.

In his closing speech, he urged jurors to probe, check and challenge the Crown testimony they had heard over the past 11 weeks, but to reach one conclusion. "When all is said and done, in my submission there is a compelling and convincing Crown case, and I ask you to convict Mr Sheridan of the charge of perjury," he said.

Sheridan is due to address the jury today.

The former MSP and leader of the Scottish Socialist Party won a defamation action against the News of the World in 2006. It is now alleged he committed perjury during that trial at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Sheridan's wife, Gail, 46, who had a charge against her withdrawn on Friday, was in the public benches to hear Mr Prentice say there were three main areas in the case - a meeting of the SSP's executive committee on 9 November, 2004, called after the News of the World ran a story about the private life of unnamed MSP; a visit to Cupid's swingers club in Manchester; and the "McNeilage tape", a video sold by Sheridan's former friend and best man George McNeilage to the News of the World for 200,000 after the civil case.

• Sheridan: How the list has been whittled down

Mr Prentice reminded the jurors of entries in Sheridan's 2001 diary. One appeared to be the word "Cupid" which had been scored out, and there was a number, which matched the phone number for Cupid's except the last digit in the phone number was "7" and the last in the diary entry was "(3.5)". He said: "I suggest … that is some kind of code to disguise the last digit. It is for you to determine what it means. This was three years before any stories were printed. I invite you to conclude that that is a very telling and significant piece of evidence."

Mr Prentice said there was a stark division on what had happened at the SSP meeting. According to some witnesses, Sheridan had confessed that the unnamed MSP was him and that he had twice visited a sex club. Others said he had denied he was involved.

It was agreed by all that Sheridan had left the meeting early.His wife was pregnant at the time, and that night they were going to show a scan of the baby to their family.

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Sheridan's phone records showed that, after leaving, he had made a call lasting 51 seconds to Gary Clark, then a call to Katrine Trolle for more than five minutes, and another call to Mr Clark for seven minutes.

Mr Clark and Ms Trolle are alleged to have been part of a party which went with Sheridan to Cupid's in 2002.

"In the rush to show his sisters the scan, he phones two of the participants of the Cupid's visit. Do you think that is significant?" Mr Prentice asked.

He added: "I invite you to take the view that there is great significance in that."

The trial continues.